Council set to vote on £24m Assembly Rooms plan

How the new Assembly Rooms would look

Derby’s refurbished Assembly Rooms could be open as early as 2020 if the City Council approves a £24m plan.

The Assembly Rooms suffered huge fire damage in 2014. If approved, the Council says the project will deliver essential repairs required to restore the venue, as well as a number of enhancements to the building and car park, to upgrade and modernise the look and feel of the Assembly Rooms.

The new look Assembly Rooms will serve as an entertainment hub for the city centre, providing a multi-functional space for concerts, pantomime, corporate events, conferences, exhibitions, comedy, family / theatre shows, weddings and more. Once opened, it’s anticipated to deliver over 280 events each year.

The enhanced venue will boast new commercial units fronting the Market Place, a remodelled entrance and lobby, multi-functional rooms, new glazing, refurbished bar areas, toilets and upgraded seating. The hope is to have a fully functioning venue by Autumn 2020.

The Darwin Banqueting Suite

The car park will also undergo a facelift, with accessibility improvements, including a new lift, as well as timber cladding to rejuvenate the exterior. Concepts are also being explored to improve the vehicle entrance from Full Street, and improve the arrival experience for visitors.

Since July, a feasibility study has taken place to determine costs for creating a new look and feel Assembly Rooms. These options included basic repairs and refurbishing plus enhancing.

Refurbishing and enhancing the Assembly Rooms is the preferred option, and is what Cabinet is being asked to approve. The cost for this is £23m, with provision for a further £1m reserve. This will be funded without any borrowing, through various pots of money, including the Council’s capital funding, Council tax and a D2N2 grant.

Councillor Chris Poulter, leader of Derby City Council said: “In order to remain competitive, it’s important that we make our Assembly Rooms a go-to hub that attracts a broad range of acts, and offers something for everyone in the city. To do that, we cannot simply repair and reopen; we must enhance the building, and bring it into the 21st century.

“A refurbished venue will act as a catalyst for regeneration in the area, and give the city something to be proud of. We are not Nottingham or Leicester, we are Derby, and it’s important that we have a venue befitting our city.”

The decision on who will operate the Assembly Rooms has not yet been made, however, the Council says it will be exploring a number of options, including Derby LIVE, and external operators.